TAKE a look at the metropolitan weekend warrior.
In original form it's a Volvo V40, but with some meaner alloys, some tougher external armour and greater ride height, it becomes the Cross Country.
While muscular from every angle, it doesn't really gain much more off-road prowess than your standard V40 ... but, most importantly, it looks the part. It's a unique blend of hatch and compact SUV.
Three are two-engine options, a turbo diesel and a turbo petrol, both in the highly-speced Luxury trim.
Getting the off-roader looks doesn't come cheap, with the oil-burner variant starting from $47,000 while the petrol derivative we tested is listed at $52,000.
Volvo has done a stupendous job of its V40 cabin functionality.
Get past the vertically designed buttons which look like an oversized television remote, and you quickly gain your bearings of the various operations.
The dials offer quick use of the dual zone air-con, while the central buttons provide access to sat nav, stereo and trip computer information.
Leather trimmed seats offer supple support in the right spots, with the front pews having electronic adjustment in a variety of directions.
The V40 is a compact hatch, so it's best suited to four adults and even then the rear seat space is dependent the generosity of those sitting up front.
A copper insert on the dash looks impressive, and was particularly cool given it matched the exterior colour scheme.
On the road
Nimble and swift under power, this pumped-up version of the V40 loses none of its drivability with the additional 40mm ride height.
Shift across into "Sport" and the Cross Country reveals its savage personality.
Gear changes are noticeably firm, shunting up and down cogs with vigour, and enabling you to push the revs close to redline.
There are no paddle shifters, although we'd question whether buyers would ultimately use them once the initial enthusiasm wears off.
It will cruise beautifully on the highway at about 2000rpm.
As for its off-road prowess, it remains more suited to dirt tracks than wading through creeks or traversing outback terrain.
This all-wheel drive model is armed with hill descent control which takes all the hard work out of tackling sleep declines, although we wouldn't dare want to scratch the spectacular alloys.
What do you get?
Nicely appointed, the V40 comes with leather trim, dual zone air con, cruise control, 17.7cm colour screen, rear camera and parking sensors, CD/DVD stereo with USB/auxiliary ports along with Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, sat nav with voice control and a leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel.
Typically outstanding in the safety department to obtain five stars, standard gear includes Dynamic Stability and Traction Control with Advanced Stability Control, Corner Traction Control, Engine Drag Control and Sport Mode.
The optional Driver Support Package costs $5000, which adds Blind Spot Information System, Cross Traffic Alert, Driver Alert System, Adaptive Cruise Control and Park Assist Pilot.
Dual cup holders ire in the centre and bottle holders in each door.
Dropping the 60:40 folding back seats is done easily via seat-top latches, which provides a useful flat load space.
For something with ride height in the luxury realm, you really have to head down the SUV path. Like the Audi Q3 Quattro (from $47,500), BMW X1 AWD (from $59,600) or new Mercedes-Benz GLA (from $47,900) or the Mini Cooper Countryman ALL4 (from $45,200).
Our week-long test saw consumption of just above eight litres for every 100km.
Insurance could be above average, especially with this turbocharged model, and it would be worthwhile shopping around.
With a black bodykit, front and rear prons, 18-inch matte black alloy wheels, honeycomb mesh grille, upright daytime running lights, side scuff plates and rear skid plate, black high-gloss frame around windows and mirrors as well as integrated roof rails, it looks extremely tough.
Starting from just above $50,000, it's hardly bargain basement buying. With the extra safety pack on board, plus throwing in on-roads, our test machine would have been close to $60K once it reached the driveway.
That's a pretty hefty outlay for a compact hatch.
Yet we enjoyed our time in the V40 Cross Country immensely.
The safety technology is outstanding, intuitive and promotes great peace of mind. Rugged good looks worked wonders for the Subaru XV, and the extra additions only add to the appeal of this agile, smart little hatch.
What matters most
What we liked: Muscular external extras and 18-inch alloys, composed ride in varying conditions, punchy five-cylinder engine.
What we'd like to see: Sharper price, extra safety features standard on this model.
Warranty and servicing: Three year/unlimited kilometres, with roadside assist. Servicing intervals are every 15,000km or 12 months (whichever occurs first).
Model: Volvo V40 Cross Country T5 Luxury
Details: Compact five-door all-wheel drive hatch.
Engine: 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder generating maximum power of 187kW @ 5400rpm and peak torque of 360Nm @ 1800-4200rpm.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
Consumption: 8.4 litres/100km (combined average).
Performance: 0-100kmh in 6.4 seconds; top speed 210kmh.
Bottom line plus on-roads: $52,990.
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